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THE MOTORCYCLE BATTERY FILES

Lowbrow Battery Line-Up and J&P about Testing

By Bandit, the Lowbrow Team and Anthony Todd J&P with a couple of images from Sam Burns
4/15/2022


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DIFFERENT KINDS OF MOTORBIKE BATTERY REVIEW & BUYING GUIDE
 
Editor’s Note: We found ourselves in the battery market again recently. We ran into a couple of issues. First, trying to fit a battery into an almost stock 1948 center oil tank. Lowbrow has an option, but it involved a very small anti-gravity lithium battery. Unfortunately, they were out of stock. Plus, they didn’t have a gel option. They did have a cool, stock, replica battery case. 
 
I did find a stock replacement battery but only in 6 Volt. I needed a 12-Volt unit for my 1948 UL. It had been modified for a 12-Volt system. Then the Lowbrow crew came up with this handy battery guide, so I thought I would share it with an article by Anthony Todd, of J&P Cycles, about testing charging systems. 
 
I went to J&P Cycles, but they don’t list battery dimensions on their website. I would think that would be a major drawback to sales, especially involving custom bikes. We all face custom oil bags with odd size battery holes. Or worse, we have limited space for a battery and need to adapt. We need to know the dimensions. Let’s roll through the Lowbrow report.  
 
BATTERIES CARRIED BY LOWBROW
 
The development of motorcycle batteries has really advanced in recent years. Back in-the-day a conventional motorcycle battery with an acid pack was the standard. You would open the top caps, pour in your acid pack, and throw it on a charger for 24 hours. This was the typical process for a lead acid classic motorcycle battery. 
There are a variety of types of motorcycle batteries for you to choose from these days. AGM maintenance free batteries, Gel AGM batteries, and Lithium motorcycle batteries are all on the market. 
 
Check the leads on this sealed battery. It's obviously designed for small motor applications and likely not electric start.
Check the leads on this sealed battery. It's obviously designed for small motor applications and likely not electric start.

 
AGM (ABSORBED GLASS MAT) MAINTENANCE FREE BATTERIES
 
AGM sealed batteries are lead acid batteries that come fully charged and are in sealed cases. This type of lead acid motorcycle battery is a good choice for budget minded consumers who live in colder climates and are mounting the battery vertically. This is the most common battery sold today. 
 
This might be a Twin Power gel battery. Note the terminals. You can attach your leads to the front or the top. It's also a 500 cranking amp battery. It's good for your high horsepower stroker motor. You need over 200 amps for electric start bikes.
This might be a Twin Power gel battery. Note the terminals. You can attach your leads to the front or the top. It's also a 500 cranking amp battery. It's good for your high horsepower stroker motor. You need over 200 amps for electric start bikes.

 
GEL CELL BATTERIES
 
Gel batteries are very similar to AGM batteries but instead of using a liquid acid, they use a gel version of the acid. This is a good custom motorcycle battery because it allows the battery to be mounted sideways or even upside down. Just like the AGM battery, the gel battery is good for cold weather applications.
 
Note the position of the connectors. Make sure you understand the position of your leads before you order.
Note the position of the connectors. Make sure you understand the position of your leads before you order.

 
LITHIUM MOTORCYCLE BATTERY
 
Finally, we have the lithium motorcycle battery. The lithium motorcycle battery has become very popular for a few reasons. Lithium batteries are very light, and they are usually much more powerful than your typical lead acid motorcycle battery. 
They have high CCA (cold cranking amps) and they can be mounted in any position. That makes these batteries extremely popular for high horsepower or custom applications. 
 
The downside to lithium motorbike batteries is they are more expensive, they do not like cold weather, and when they go bad it happens quickly. In addition, there are a variety of custom battery box options available that make mounting (and even hiding) your battery an easy task.
 
Yuasa makes a ton of batteries for lots of models.
Yuasa makes a ton of batteries for lots of models.

 
MAINTAINING YOUR MOTORCYCLE BATTERY
 
Keeping your motorcycle battery in good condition is simple. If you live in a cold climate, or have to store your motorcycle for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to keep your battery on a battery maintainer while the bike is being stored. 
If your bike is going to be stored for months, it is a good idea to take your battery out of the bike and keep it stored where the temperature stays above freezing. Be sure to put it on a motorcycle battery charger every so often to make sure it stays fully charged.
 
Battery cables are more important than you think. If you're having an issue, I always check ground connections first. Old battery cables can be trouble. These are Terry Component cables, super- flexible and notice the shrink tubing from the cable to the terminal, critical to prevent corrosion.
Battery cables are more important than you think. If you're having an issue, I always check ground connections first. Old battery cables can be trouble. These are Terry Component cables, super- flexible and notice the shrink tubing from the cable to the terminal, critical to prevent corrosion.

 
Lowbrow Customs has a selection of motorcycle batteries for your custom Triumph or Harley-Davidson motorcycle. We carry sealed AGM batteries as well as lithium motorcycle batteries. We also carry replacement battery hardware. If you need a battery, check out our selection of products. We know they work because we use them in our bikes. 
 
--LowBrow Team
 
I found this informative. I’ve also read some lithium hazards including fires. Due to the construction of a lithium battery, the fire can be hard to put out. This caused me some concern. I’m sure you’ve seen reports about the dangers of Lithium batteries in cars. 
 
 
After a tremendous hunting expedition, I found this MightyMax 12-Volt, 100 cranking amps, sealed lead-acid battery (for $25.00 from Amazon). It is 4.5 inches long and 2.75 inches wide and about 5 inches tall. It has standard battery terminals, but the fasteners are smaller than stock batteries.
 
 
I learned more from the Lowbrow article regarding lithium batteries. They are cool and light as a feather, but I’m suspicious about the technology. Plus, I now live in a colder climate, like today 14 degrees. Below is the article about testing your system:
 
 
Step by Step Instructions for Testing Your Harley’s Charging System
 
1. Battery Test
 
The battery needs to be a fully charged battery and load-tested to ensure proper readings. If you are not working with a fully charged and functional battery, all other voltage tests will be incorrect. Most places like Auto Zone, Advance Auto, and Pep Boys will charge and test motorcycle batteries for free. Standing battery Voltage should be 12.5-13.2 DCV.
 
 
2. Charging System Voltage Test
 
Start motorcycle, measure DC Volts across the battery terminals (you should have a reading of approximately 13.2-15 DC Volts). Generally, we check the battery before the motorcycle is started, and then check it again under a fast idle. The reading should increase by a volt or more, so from 12.5 to 13.5. That indicated that the battery is charging.
 
3. Check Connections/Wires
 
Inspect the regulator/stator plug, and check the battery terminals for connection/corrosion. If everything seems to be in order, move on to NO. 4 below to determine if there’s a failed component.
 
4. Stator Checks/Rotor Check
 
Each of the following tests isolate the stator and rotor. If the AC Output test fails and Resistance Check and Stator IB Test pass, then the rotor is at fault (Pull primary covers and inspect rotor for damage).
 
AC Output Check:
 
    Unplug the regulator plug from the stator.
    Start motorcycle and change Voltmeter to AC volts.
    Probe both stator wires with your meter leads.
    The motorcycle should be putting out approximately 18-20 ACV per 1,000 rpm. (Reading will vary depending on system, check service manual specifications)
    Generic Specs:
    22 amp system produces about 19-26 VAC per 1,000 rpm
    32 amp system produces about 16-20 VAC per 1,000 rpm
    45 amp system produces about 19-26 VAC per 1,000 rpm
 
Stator Resistance Check:
 
    Switch your multi-meter to Ohm x 1 scale.
    Probe each stator wire with meter leads and check resistance on meter.
    Resistance should be in the range of 0.1-0.5 Ohms. (Reading will vary depending on system, check service manual for specification)
    Generic Specs:
    22 amp system produces about 0.2 to 0.4 ohms
    32 amp system produces about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms
    45 amp system produces about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms
 
Stator IB test or Ground Check:
 
    Switch your multi-meter to Ohm x 1 scale.
    Probe each stator wire with your positive lead on multi-meter and the negative to ground.
    There should be no continuity to ground on either wire.
    If there is continuity to ground, your stator is shorted to ground.
 
5. Regulator Test:
 
Each of the following tests isolates the regulator only, so if any of these tests fail, the regulator is at fault.
 
 
Identifying Wires:
 
    Battery Charge Lead– Wire going from regulator to battery positive.
    AC output leads– Wires coming from the stator to regulator.
 
    Ground– Wire from regulator to ground or regulator may be grounded via the physical bolting to chassis.
 
    Regulator Ground Test: Ensure the regulator body is grounded or grounding wire is fastened tight to a good ground (you should verify this by checking continuity from regulator body to chassis ground).
 
    Fwd/Reverse Bias Test/Diode Test: This check is for testing the diode function to ensure it is regulating the AC current for the stator into DC current.
 
    Switch multi-meter to Diode Scale.
 
    Place your multi-meter positive lead on each AC output wire.
    Place your multi-meter negative lead on the battery Charge wire.
    The meter should read voltage typically around .5 volts.
    Next, switch your multi-meter leads putting the negative lead on the AC output wires and the positive lead on the Battery Charge Wire.
    The reading should be infinite.
 
    With your meter on the same setting, place your multi-meter positive lead on the regulator ground wire or to the regulator directly, and then place your meter negative lead on the AC output leads.
 
    The meter should read typically around .5 volts.
 
    Next, switch your multi-meter leads putting the negative lead on the regulator ground and the positive lead on the AC output wires.
 
    The reading should be infinite.
 
    Note: Below is a table to show the readings:
 
 
--Anthony Todd
J&P Cycles
 
Click for Action.
Click for Action.

 
Here’s a comment from the V-Twin Visionary:
 
Jeff G. Holt brand director and editor of V-Visionary says this about battery tenders; “I am forever in need of battery tending. From my personal bikes to the Harley-Davidson and Indian test bikes. I frequently have battery drainage issues. 
 
I would say that personally battery failure is the main mechanical factor in me not getting rubber on the road. I combat this by using a good quality battery tender that both charges and conditions the battery internally.”
 
--Jeff G. Holt
V-Twin Visionary
HoltCo Inc.
626.391.3143
@jeffgholt
@vtwinvisionary
VTWINVISIONARY.COM
 

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